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DOT Urges LNG Operators to be Vigilant with Facility Security

The Department of Transportation (DOT) has issued an advisory bulletin urging owners and operators of liquefied natural gas (LNG) plants to be vigilant in securing their facilities in the wake of the breach at KeySpan Corp.'s Lynn, MA, storage site in August.

The DOT Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration's (PHMSA) "pipeline safety regulations require operators to implement security measures that deter intruders at LNG terminal, facilities and peak-shaving plants," said the advisory bulletin, which was published in the Federal Register Thursday. The security measures encompass written procedures, protective enclosures, security communication, lighting and monitoring, the agency noted.

The PHMSA recommends that LNG facility operators:

The breach at the KeySpan LNG facility in August underscored the need for preparedness and vigilance, the PHMSA said. "The operator discovered [the] breach of security at the LNG facility during routine maintenance...[An] investigation revealed that intruders had cut through the outer and inner perimeter fences and through the locked gate and gained access to the storage tank several days before the breach was discovered," the agency noted. There was no significant damage to the facility, which houses one storage tank with a capacity of 1 Bcf.

"A microwave intrusion system documented the intrusions on the computer monitoring system, which should have alerted operator personnel to the intrusions. [But] operator personnel did not respond. In the days following, personnel conducted several routine visual inspections of the area without noting the cuts in the fences. Although there was also video surveillance of the perimeter, personnel did not review the tape until they investigated the breach," the PHMSA said.

Massachusetts regulators earlier this month ordered KeySpan to pay a civil penalty of $250,000 for the security breach at the LNG storage facility that went unreported for five days (see Daily GPI, Dec. 14). The breach occurred on Aug. 16, but the company did not notify state officials until Aug. 21. State regulators had the authority to penalize KeySpan up to $1 million per incident.

A notice of probable violation issued by the state Department of Telecommunications and Energy (DTE) identified several violations of safety regulations that the agency alleged occurred at the Lynn plant, and it proposed remedial actions to be undertaken by KeySpan to prevent a repeat of similar incidents in the future.

The Brooklyn, NY-based company, which is the fifth largest distributor of gas in the United States and the largest in the Northeast, has until Jan. 8 to either sign a consent agreement and pay the fine or request a hearing before the DTE.

Following the security breach at the KeySpan facility, Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney ordered state regulators and public safety officials to carry out a security review of all of the state's LNG storage facilities (see Daily GPI, Aug. 28). There are approximately 20 LNG storage sites in Massachusetts, seven of which are owned by KeySpan, according to the company.

The results of the investigation, which were submitted to Romney in September, found the state's LNG facilities to be in substantial compliance with state and federal safety and security regulations.

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